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EU has ‘very serious’ issues with Apple, says competition chief

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Antitrust executive Margrethe Vestager says the EU has multiple issues over Apple’s App Store and its alleged non-compliance with the region’s new laws, and vows to enforce fines where necessary.

It has previously been rumored that the European Union is about to issue a fine against Apple over its alleged continuing to block rivals from promoting alternative services. Now European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, has confirmed that the EU is investigating Apple.

“Well, we have a number of Apple issues [and] I find them very serious,” she said on CNBC. I was very surprised that we would have such suspicions of Apple being non-compliant.”

“I can say this is not what was expected of such a company,” she continued. “Of course, we will enforce exactly with the same dedication and with the same top priority as with any other business.”

While refusing to detail the issues, she said that an announcement would be made “hopefully soon.” Vestager also said that the EU has five current cases against Big Tech firms, including Apple, with more in progress.

“I expected cases, I was a bit surprised that we would have so many cases so soon and more in the pipeline,” she said. Vestager says she believes the Digital Markets Act (DMA) is directly affecting firms and their financial bottom line, and consequently she sees companies trying to evade the law.

Under the DMA, the EU has the power to levy a daily penalty of up to 5% of its average daily worldwide turnover. In Apple’s case, that potentially means up to $1 billion every day.

The DMA also gives the EU the authority to force the breakup of companies. Vestager described this as meaning the EU has “a strong toolbox” of options with which to punish non-compliance, and says that the DMA will be enforced.

“It’s only when you enforce that you change the law, the world,” she said, “because only then do you change behavior.”

The potential further fines against Apple follow the EU’s fining it $2 billion over Apple allegedly favoring its own Apple Music over the vastly more popular Spotify. The EU has subsequently been reported to be investigating whether that fine made Apple change any of its practices.